We’ve tried a couple of different things over the years: container gardening and community gardening in particular. This year we are going to ‘let the professionals’ handle it. Container gardens will continue to be part of our offerings here, but we are taking a hiatus from the Community Garden as the CSA are more cost-effective.
This spring we will be working directly with Hope Farms (a ministry of Bethlehem Christian Refugee Services). Their CSA Farm hires recently resettled refugees to work on their 5 acre farm, producing quality, weekly produce shares to be sold in the community. The partnership, works for both Hope Farms and The Pantry in a number of ways. Read full post
When The Pantry hired a very part-time social worker in the summer of 2014, believe it or not, there were friends and donors who questioned the need for such a person here. I think, most people have accepted the idea by now, but it is important to articulate why case management is so important. When we brought Stephanie Cuerrier, a health enthusiast and MSW (Master of Social Work) to join our staff, she came to implement our NOW (Nutritional Options for Wellness) program, which has been going gangbusters every since. Additionally, we tasked Stephanie with the broad work of ‘Referrals and Case Management’. Read full post
Wednesday around noon, I had a young woman, not more than 30, come into The Pantry for help. She came with a friend. She lost her job a few months ago, had ‘pounded the pavement’ as the say every day since without success. Her husband abandoned her and the kids, 3 of them, when the house was foreclosed on last month. She and her 3 kids are staying with the friend that brought her. That friend has 4 kids of her own. They were worried what they were going to provide these kids for Thanksgiving. They came into The Pantry for the first time, ashamed and anxious about what they’d find here. After getting her information entered into the database and talking with her about some of the other opportunities in the area she might benefit from using, she went to shop with one of our volunteers. I saw her leaving later, both she and her friend each pushing a full cart of food. As the door was closing, she must have seen that I was smiling at that sight. She left her cart, turned around and ran back in side. She was crying and smiling and I was a little confused at first. Then she threw her arms wide and gave me a warm hug with several whispered thank yous. Some days its easy to remember why I am here.